Books · Reviews

Before I Fall – Book Review (Spoiler-Free)

before-i-fall

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher for an honest review. Thank you to Hodder and StoughtonΒ for the opportunity.

Hey everyone! How’re things going? πŸ™‚

Sorry I haven’t been too active lately. I guess I have descended into the dreaded blogging slump I’ve heard so much about… 😦 I’m hoping to catch up on everyone’s posts soon enough, though!

Once again, I decided to try my luck on a contemporary for a change and have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I hope you enjoy my review!


This review is completely spoiler-free.

before-i-fall

  • Title: Before I Fall
  • Author: Lauren Oliver
  • Publisher: Hodder & Houghton
  • Publication Date: February 9th, 2017
  • Page Count: 386

synopsis

Sam Kingston is a privileged girl with a seemingly perfect life. She never has to care about anything except looking hot, being popular and occasionally getting good grades. That is, until one day she dies in a terrible car accident. Now she has to relive her last day over and over, again. And she doesn’t know why.

 

firstimpressions

I’ve heard so much about this book ever since it was released years ago but didn’t really think it was for me. Still, I was curious and wanted to know what all the fuss was about. I found myself pleasantly surprised and was actually really into the story from the very first pages.

 

thesweet2

All the characters are incredibly three-dimensional. At first glance, they all look and sound the same, but as you read on you realize just how much you’re skimming the surface. How every single one of them has something singular about them, how each one has an inner struggle of their own, a story to tell.

Sam, the protagonist, is especially interesting. She’s not a great person. She’s not a role model. But she’s real. Her doubts and insecurities, her thoughts, they all made so much sense to me. I think anyone who’s ever been a teenager, no matter their “role” back then (mean girl, misfit, nerd…) will be able to understand her and relate to her. Her family and friends/classmates are also on point.

I thought this book would be incredibly depressing given the subject matter. But it wasn’t. There were some dark moments, of course, and I had my heart on my throat on occasion. But overall, it tells an uplifting and hopeful story. It makes you feel good. It makes you feel like anything is possible and also helps you appreciate the little things in life a bit more. It’s also surprisingly humorous and lighthearted and it made me laugh countless times.

The writing was fantastic. It felt like one was really inside Sam’s head and experiencing everything first-hand. Even the “paranormal” details were explored with great care. All the events were stacked together in a cohesive, easy to follow fashion, so the reader had no trouble making small connections here and there without, however, figuring out the whole thing right away.

There was always something new about Sam’s day, even if it was a repeat from her previous one. All the changes made always had consequences, so you get different responses from different characters and events every time. I thought this was really well-done: it was not insanely complex, but I liked its simplicity.

The moment Sam realizes what’s happening and has to deal with it was especially powerful and incredibly realistic.

There are many hard moments to stomach in this, though they are all portrayed in a respectful and tasteful manner. I think the author really managed to make these teenagers come to life, with all their flaws and faults ready to slap the reader in the face with barely any filter.

The romance was really cute and sweet and I couldn’t stop squealing at how adorable it was. I’m also glad it didn’t take over the plot at some point.

 

thebitter1

The repetition could get a little bit boring sometimes. After all, we’re experiencing the same day several times over. It’s bound to sound and look the same every time. Even though the author was clever to create all these nuances for every time Sam behaved a different way, I guess by the end I was just hoping it would be over already. All the chapters were really long and they dragged a little bit, too.

I thought some things might have been a little clichΓ©, though overall they worked well for the story. A lot of the time I kept thinking “well, this would look great in a movie” because it did sound like it came from one.

I was hoping this book would incite stronger emotions within me, but it didn’t. It felt very light, which to me wasn’t a problem exactly, just something I noticed. After all, this is about death and fixing past mistakes. It should have left me bawling my eyes out at some point. And although it did make me feel bad/emotional regarding certain situations, it never got to full blown emotional destruction.

I’m still not sure what I think about the ending… I’ll have to mull it over for a bit. On one hand it was fitting; on the other, it didn’t satisfy me.

 

finalthoughts2

I didn’t think I would like this book as much as I did. The story was very well-written, the characters were all amazingly crafted and each spoke to me in small ways. Sam was especially relatable and it was a joy to look at the world through her eyes.

I also thought the whole life/death situation and the paranormal vibe was really well done. Sometimes authors over complicate it and I was glad Oliver kept it simple and to the point without it losing quality. Everything was very realistic, for the most part, including how teenagers think and behave (except for the texting, I didn’t like that).

There were some powerful moments in this but none actually made me feel depressed. The whole book was surprisingly light and optimistic. Which can be both good and bad, depending on how one looks at it. I’m still a bit undecided, to be honest.

The ending was not my favorite but it might appeal to others. The chapters’ length made it a bit boring/dragging at times and some things were also a tad clichΓ©.

Overall, Before I Fall was a really great book and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys this type of plot. However, if you’re looking for something super dramatic and messed up, this isn’t for you. Trigger warnings: suicide, bullying, among others.

 

Story & Plot:Β 4choco

Writing & Style:Β 4choco

Characters:Β 4choco

Pacing:Β 3halfchoco-

Enjoyment:Β 4choco

Final Rating:

4choco

***

Get Before I Fall at your local bookstore, BookDepository, Amazon and B&N.

Follow Lauren Oliver on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and her official website.

And check out the Before I Fall movie on Netflix.

***

Thank you so much for reading and until next time!

signature1


What did you think of my review? Do you plan to read Before I Fall? q^β€Ώ^ q

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91 thoughts on “Before I Fall – Book Review (Spoiler-Free)

  1. Great review for this book Sophie, and I’m really glad you enjoyed this one as well. I’ve seen the trailer for this, they’re releasing it as a film or a Netflix series right, and it looks incredible. Before the trailer I had no idea what the book was about but after the trailer I thought I may as well add it to my to-read list. It seems like an interesting concept, and plenty of people I know have nothing but incredible things to say about Lauren Oliver’s books.
    Your review has just proved I need to read this book as well! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Beth! ❀ I've heard the movie is very true to the book, which I'm happy about because it did feel like it would do really well on screen. It's one of those narratives, you know?
      I absolutely recommend you read it/watch it if you found it interesting, because it definitely will not disappoint. At least, it didn't for me πŸ™‚
      It's the first book I've read by her but I can already tell I'll probably like her other ones as well. Her writing style is great and pulls you in instantly. Even someone like me who's not into contemporaries that much enjoyed it throughout.
      Will be looking forward to your thoughts on it! ^_^

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s all right, and that’s good to hear as well. There’s nothing worse than loving a book and having the movie fail to live up to it. I definitely did, and I’ll try and get around to this one soon. I need to read it before I see the film at least. πŸ™‚
        I’ve read Replica, which is the only release of hers I’ve read but I have the others on my TBR list, just need to get around to them. πŸ™‚

        Like

  2. No worries about not being active lately. I myself had a bit of a slump as well. Sometimes real life just seems to catch up on you. It happens πŸ˜€
    Your reviews are always worth the wait though, this one being no exception. It sounds like a great novel, the premise is intriguing enough. Thank you for sharing it, and of course I am adding this one to my to read list πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the lovely words, Michel πŸ™‚ Yeah, I know… But it’s so hard to feel like you’ve been neglecting your blog and blogging buddies 😦 I just want to get back on track ASAP!
      Aww you’re awesome! I’m not worthy of your praise, kind sir ^^
      Although I don’t think the story is 100% original, as I’ve seen similar concepts in other books, I think its execution was fantastic and had very little to complain about, in the end. I think it really depends on the person reading it, because it does leave a lot of things open to interpretation and doesn’t explain certain loose ends. But, overall, I think it worked for this type of narrative where everything is a bit eerie to begin with.
      Thank you so much once again for the wonderful comment! I so hope you enjoy it once you read it πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I know what you mean, that’s how I feel when I am away myself for a while from blogging. I just love interacting with everyone, it’s the best thing about blogging. But sometimes it really can’t be helped, so really don’t feel bad about it 😊
        Well sometimes a story does not have to be fully original in order to still be able to enjoy it. In fact some of the best ones, usually have some elements of other or similar concepts in them. I will let you know if I read it what I thought about it 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember reading this 4 or 5 years ago and really liking it. I don’t remember it that well, except I remember how it ends which is why I don’t really feel like doing a re-read of it. I might want to watch the movie though! I heard that it is actually pretty good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I heard the movie is spot-on, so I’m really interested in watching it! I hope I don’t get disappointed and it turns out to be a complete flop. So far, though, it has been getting good reviews.
      I think the author’s writing style helped a lot. The story in itself is not too complex or anything, but it does grab your attention almost instantly. I’m hoping the movie captures that essence πŸ™‚
      Thank you so much for reading, Em! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, glad to hear the movie is worth it too! I’m watching it soon πŸ™‚
      Yeah, that was one of the reasons why I couldn’t give it a higher rating. But, agreed, it’s a very good story with some great elements to it, if one ignores the not so great stuff.
      Thank you so much, Charlotte! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree that this book was a pleasant surprise.I think the author brought these characters to life too and I liked the surprising development they had over such a short period of time. And I liked the way small changes had big consequences too. I do agree that it dragged after a while, especially cos it was so repetitive. And yeah, it didn’t blow me away or have such a strong emotional impact in the end despite the themes of death. But I was also pleasantly surprised with this one! Great review!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! ❀ Yeah, I was expecting it to be super depressing and heartbreaking but, in a way, I'm glad it wasn't hahaha Some subjects seem to not have been really touched but I still think it was a great novel. I'm happy to hear you enjoyed it too! πŸ™‚

      Like

  5. Great review! I read this book but didn’t really care for it. I have discovered I’m not a fan of the repeating-day (like a Groundhog’s Day style) story. I still want to see the movie however – I think the movie might work out better for me πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Ami! ❀ Yeah, I wasn't a fan of that either. After a while, it just drags too much, no matter how interesting you try to make things. While I do like the whole time travel/reliving thing, I'm not sure I'll be picking more books on the subject any time soon. They have to be pretty good or have great writing to make up for the boring repetition.
      I hope you enjoy the movie! Though I hear it's very similar to the book – like, word by word, sometimes. So you might want to keep that in mind.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I saw this movie and that it was excellent. I had no idea it was based on a book! I will have to read this! Great review, thanks for sharing!

    I tagged you for the I Messed Up Book Tag! No obligation to participate, of course, but here it is if you’d like to check it out πŸ™‚ I Messed Up Book Tag
    Jo-Ann

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This one is a four chocolate rating for me too. πŸ˜‰ There are a lot of things that I liked about it. I think you brought up most of them in your sweet category. For me the most bitter part is how YA contemporary literature seems to really reinforce the idea that being popular in high school = being mean. That is so not my high school was, I mean there were some mean girls, but that definitely wasn’t the majority. And I hate the idea of books reinforcing that stereotype. I think when young adults see that in shows and in books, it makes that persona one that’s even more desirable for them, and that’s a problem. But that’s just my opinion on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmm I see your point, Krysti. Although I didn’t specifically point it on in the review, I guess it could fall into the “clichΓ©s” mentioned in the bitter section, which I didn’t care much for. And you’re absolutely right, it’s problematic.
      However, I don’t think kids aspire to be mean because they think it’ll make them popular. Or get too influenced by it. Especially since the target audience for this book would be 16 year olds, at most. By then, you already have a pretty defined high school identity, I think.
      Although I don’t agree with it, I think it was a plot device as valid as any other. The author needed there to be conflict between the girls to lead to the tragedy. And the best way to do it would be to confront mean girls and a misfit. Also, the fact that the girls (and especially Sam) were privileged/rich/popular, really made the whole “everything is meaningless after death” message more prominent. Had she not been popular, or mean, there wouldn’t have been as much inner struggle as it did. And the message wouldn’t have been as powerful.
      I’m not sure if the author could have gone a different way, or which one that would be. Even though it was clichΓ©, again I felt it worked well for the story at hand.
      What are your thoughts on this?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I totally agree with you on that. I think it’s a trope that this story definitely wouldn’t work as well without. And we all know that it’s much more than a trope in the real world too. There are always girls like this in any high school.

        I would just like to see more representations in YA contemporary of popular girls who are also nice. It’s not a criticism on this book so much as a criticism of the genre really. I think we need some positive examples of kids who are “cool” instead of having cool always equal mean, because that’s not realistic either.

        Like

        1. Yeah you’re quite right on that. I do see a bit more diversity here and there and characters actually surprising me at times. But not enough.
          Let’s hope authors change that 😊 There’s a lot of potential, they just need a bit of a push. I guess cliches are safe and easier to do, so that’s why they rely on them so much… But no risk, no gain.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Amazing review, as always! ❀ I will be reading this one soon. I really liked the movie and I actually wanted to read it first but my mom and I decided to go see it first, lol. I was wondering how the author would handle writing the same day over and over, so I look forward to seeing how I feel about that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! ❀️
      Yeah I thought she did a great job, but it was inevitable that it would feel a bit repetitive/overdone at one point. It’s not her fault, I guess, just something that comes with the reliving thing.
      I’m glad you liked the movie! 😊 I think you’ll have no problem enjoying the book as well. I actually thought a lot of things were better in the movie, to be honest. More up to date, too. I think the book was written in 2000 and the movie came out this year so there are certain details that set them apart (regarding social media, etc.) I thought that was a really great touch, but of course half of it wouldn’t have existed back then.
      Overall, a really cool adaptation. I was very impressed. I hope you love the book! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can see that. And maybe she wants us to feel that repetitiveness so we understand the point.

        That will be so fun to compare the book to the movie as far as the time adaptations. That is pretty cool to see that they tried to keep it up to date. Normally I would want the book time period to stay the same in the movie, but with this one I think keeping it up to date fits with it being about high school life. Makes it more relate-able. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Overall a good review! I like strong characters and that’s a plus. It’s interesting to see how the experience of death is portrayed in literature and this seems to offer up another look. I’m glad the movie follows along well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Diana! Yeah, I thought the author did an amazing job with that: she didn’t trivialize the subject, but she didn’t make it incredibly depressing and sad, either.
      The movie is absolutely spot-on! I think you would enjoy both πŸ™‚
      P.S.: I wanted you to know I received your e-mail but didn’t have time to check out your books yet. I will do my best to do it soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Excellent review Sophie! I really appreciate that trigger warning! This is not the kind of book I would like to read. Prior to your review, I may have wanted to read but now I’m well informed. Thanks so much!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Jasmine! ❀ I don't usually pay much attention to them but due to the subject matter, I thought it would be relevant to mention.
      I really liked this book because it wasn't depressing at all and it was actually very fun to read. There was some really nice humor in it, which I thought was great.
      I think you might have liked it, despite everything. Unless there's a personal reason why you wouldn't want to read it, then I completely understand. It's not for everyone.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Great review! I actually commited one of my personal taboos and watched this one in theaters before picking up the book. I too didnt think I’d like it much (I wasn’t the one to pick the movie), but was also plesently suprised. Yet was unsure about giving the book a try considering my conflicted feelings about the ending, but if the writing is really good I may go for it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! πŸ™‚
      I thought both were incredibly well-done. I’m not sure how well one would like the book after watching the movie (I did the opposite, after all) but I think it’ll be fine.
      The movie did improve on a lot of things, though, let me warn you. I thought it was really clever and logical.
      But that didn’t diminish my reading experience. They’re very similar (the dialogues are the same almost word for word) but have a different vibe, if that makes sense.
      I really hope you enjoy the book if you do give it a try! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks a ton! I’ve been really curious about a book to movie comparison and that really helped 😊
        Thanks for the warning. Its rare to find the movie improving certain things instead of the other way around, but have come across it. I’m glad they kept close to the original dialogue and am curious about the different vibes they give off.

        Like

  12. I love this review! The book is on my TBR but I don’t when I’m going to read it, I’m afraid it’s going to be too repetitive for my taste 😦

    Like

    1. Thank you so much! ❀ Oh I would give it a go, anyway. Who knows, it might surprise you!
      The repetition is inevitable, after all, and there wasn't much to be done. Everything else was interesting enough to make you forget about its not so great moments, so in the end I think it's very worth it πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Great review, Sophie! I was wondering about the repetitiveness of the day until you mentioned it in your bitter section… but, still good to see every time there was something new to discover, otherwise this book could not survive at all!
    It sounds like there are plenty of important themes included in the story as well, so it sounds like a beefed up enough read and cute romances are always a bonus! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Liz! ❀️ Yeah it got a bit tiring at one point but it was still pretty cool. The changes brought a different flavor to it every time πŸ™‚
      I thought it had the right amount of drama. I don’t like when books/movies become too depressing.
      The romance was barely there but still super cute and satisfactory 😊 I hope you enjoy it if you decide to read it!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I also really enjoyed this book. It may have had its cliches and slow parts, but I feel like the writing style and the characters were what made it great. And yeah, the romance was definitely cute, and I like how it didn’t overtake the plot. Some people hate is book for the lack of character development, which doesn’t make sense to me. It’s the same day, people will stay the same even if you find out new things about them. Sam’s charger journey is one of the best I’ve ever read.
    Lauren Oliver is a very versatile writer. Her book Vanishing Girls is a story I only appreciated on my reread. At first, I didn’t like it, but after a reread I understood it better. Again, it’s strengths were the writing and characters.
    Sorry for the tangent, but if you were interested in Vanishing Girls, I thought you should know that it’s best on the reread 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally agree with everything you said!! I don’t get it either. And I’m not even a fan of contemporaries. Maybe that’s why?
      And I will definitely keep that in mind! 😊 I used to see Vanishing Girls everywhere but didn’t feel the pull. I’m much more interested now that I know it’s from her! Thanks for the tip ❀️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not a huge contemporary fan either, so maybe that is the reason why we both liked it so much. It was very different.
        I didn’t see Vanishing Girls anywhere, actually. I just read it because Lauren Oliver wrote it. So if you read it and don’t like it, don’t write a review right away; take a break, and then reread it. Trust me, it is way better on a reread!

        Like

  15. I’ve seen this book around quite often and thought it was a dark and troubling story about teenagers and what not. This review definitely changed my view of it. Hopeful? Uplifting? Sweet romance? Wow. At least it still has those dark areas as I thought it had. I also didn’t know about that “repetitive” story-telling style. Definitely curious about its movie/TV show counterpart now hahah. Fantastic review as always Sophie!! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Lashaan! πŸ˜€ And I’m sorry for the late reply, but I’ve just been so busy I haven’t been able to check the blog lately (as you could probably guess from my lack of posts, eek ._.)
      I was pleasantly surprised as well! I would probably never have read it had the publisher not sent it to me because I absolutely abhor depressing books and this one sounded like one. I’m really glad to have been proven wrong! And sure, it was dark here and there but not in a draining/exhausting kind of way. Just as expected, I guess.
      I think the movie adaptation was really well done and definitely recommend it too! πŸ™‚ I hope you enjoy it if you decide to give it a go.
      Thank you so much once again! ❀ ^_^

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I completely agree! This is such a powerful and amazing book and I’m so glad you enjoyed it as much as I did. πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Lovely review! I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed this book – I read it a little while ago now and really liked it, even if, like you said, the repetitive story line was a little bothering at times, I still thought it was quite a unique premise πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Great review, Sophie! I didn’t expect to love this book as much as I did, either. Repetition is always a tricky thing to handle, especially if the entire book is centered around that type of premise. Usually I enjoy movies that execute repetitive plots well, like Edge of Tomorrow, but reading repetitive plots is an entirely different experience. I got a little frustrated towards the middle of the book but held on because I really appreciated what Oliver was trying to get at with the MC and how her behavior/decisions affect those around her as well as herself. The writing is certainly beautiful and the ending was pretty provocative, but I wanted to feel a little more impacted as well. I agree that the entire book felt more uplifting than saddening, but maybe that was the author’s intent? Either way, it’s still a fantastic book. I’m so glad that you ended up enjoying it! Do you think you’ll watch the movie? I haven’t gotten around to watching it myself but I think I might try to watch it one day πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! ❀ ❀ And I wouldn't have said it better, Azia! I had a very similar experience while reading this: a little bored towards the middle, but still went on because I was both curious and pretty invested in the story/characters by then.
      I think it might have been her intent… I did like the ending, but like you said, it didn't stir anything much within me. It was just so abrupt. So open.
      I've already watched the movie and loved it! It was so spot-on πŸ™‚ Even the dialogue seemed to be taken word by word from the book. I really liked that little touch, and felt like they did the whole book justice. The characters didn't look the way I pictured them but that wasn't a big problem.
      I hope you feel the same way if you end up watching it! ^^

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yay! Glad to hear the movie was a respectful adaptation πŸ˜€ And I always love it when they pull some quotes or dialogue from the original source material. As long as the actors/actresses capture the character, I can always make an exception to their appearance. I’ll have to get around to watching the film soon πŸ˜€ Thanks for the heads up! xx

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Hi Sophie! I also thought I wouldn’t like this book as much as I did. I read it a few years ago and I remember reading through each day was always really interesting but when I got to the end, it would be hard to pick it up again because it was just going to be that same day. I love the style of your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. After reading your review, I don’t know what I want more–to eat chocolate or to finally pick my copy up. I have had it for years and I’m still procrastinating even though it’s totally my cup of tea and I’ve wanted to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha why not both? πŸ˜€
      I think you’ll enjoy it and since you already own a copy, might as well just dive in! Plus, it’s a genre you love? *gasp* Read it, read it, read it!
      Also, thank you so much for reading my review and commenting, means a lot ❀ ^_^

      Like

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